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Four Innovation Mistakes to Avoid

In this article I cover the 4 common mistakes organisations are making that stop them from being more innovative.  Sometimes these mistakes aren't obvious when you're working within the organisation, so I’m hoping this article will help you to not fall into these common traps, and instead continue to build an innovative and impactful organisation. Here they are…

Lack of Structure

Many organisations don't take a structured approach to innovation. Ideas may be generated sporadically through hackathons or brainstorms, but there is no clear process for prioritising ideas or allocating resources to test them out. Without structure, it's difficult for innovation to happen consistently or have real impact. This leads to a lot of ideas, but not much action or change.

Internal Focus Over Client Needs

Another mistake is focusing innovation efforts internally rather than considering client needs. Leaders may come up with changes that benefit the organisation but make life harder for those they aim to help. We recommend understanding what clients truly need through consultation and co-design. The most successful leaders deeply understand both client needs and organisational realities.

Risk-Averse Leadership 

Leaders who are too risk-averse and focused on avoiding mistakes tend to stifle innovation. In environments where failure is not an option, people are less willing to step out of their comfort zones. In contrast, organisations that prioritise learning over blame, foster a culture where failure isn’t seen as failure but as a chance to learn instead.  

Lack of a Compelling Reason for Change

To support innovation efforts, people need a strong motivation or "why". Without a compelling reason to change habitual ways of working, maintaining the status quo is easier. The most innovative leaders articulate a vision that inspires stepping out of routines to achieve greater impact.

By addressing these four common mistakes, organisations can overcome barriers to innovation and drive meaningful progress. It means embracing a culture of experimentation, learning, and adaptation to unlock new possibilities and create lasting impact.

Would love to hear your ideas on what you’ve found works to change these types of behaviours? Post your examples in the comments below.

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